New York’s senior senator at a press conference in Times Square Monday afternoon said Congress needs to act to help overhaul the bistate agency.
Schumer, a Democrat, said the reforms need to carry the agency well into the future.
“I believe with a largely forgotten Act of Congress in 1921, we have a way to achieve just that,” said Schumer.
That Act of Congress created the Port Authority. Schumer said the agency has drifted from its core mission of operating “airports, seaports, bridges, tunnels.”
“The fabric binding the Port Authority to that core mission is frayed,” he said. “Put the core mission in writing like a beacon for future commissioners.”
Part of Schumer’s 7-point proposal includes barring agency funding for pet state projects, like one big project currently under way.
“The Pulaski Skyway is neither owned nor in any way operated by the Port Authority,” said Schumer. “The honey pot mentality has turned the Port Authority into a 50-50 operation between the two states: I get mine, you get yours.”
The senator also proposed an open budget process and a single executive director who’s elected by the board, not appointed by a governor.
“End the practice of having two lines of authority in an agency that needs only one,” Schumer said.
He added the reforms should also include making sure the Port Authority focuses on what it can do.
“Tolls are too high, our bridges, tunnels and airports and bus terminals are in desperate need of modernization,” he said.
Schumer said the Port Authority board should review his ideas and propose their own set.
“I’m hardly the fount of all knowledge here,” said Schumer.
The senator said he hopes to come to a consensus and make the changes permanent through a new law.
The Port Authority has so far not commented on Schumer’s proposal.
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